The Obama administration wants to reinstate the so-called Superfund tax known as a "polluter pays" tax. This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which rarely urges passage of specific bills, sent a letter to Congress in support of reinstating the taxes, first established 30 years ago to clean up sites around the country contaminated with hazardous waste. That money went into trust and reached a peak of $3.8 billion in 1996, but ran out in 2003, especially since the taxes expired in 1995 under the Bush administration. Only 19 sites were completed last year, compared to 89 in 1999. There are 1,279 sites on the list.
The move is likely to spark an intense battle on Capitol Hill between Democrats and oil companies and chemical manufacturers. Proponents argue that it eases the burden on taxpayers by funding the cleanup of "orphaned" sites, those where a responsible party is either insolvent or cannot be found, to the industry most responsible for the wastes. Opponents say it is an unfair penalty imposed at a particularly bad time in the economy. And, they see the timing of the measure as highly suspect against the backdrop of the BP oil spill in the gulf.
For their part, the chemical companies see it as unfairly targeting their sector. "We're somehow collateral damage in a political effort to go after the oil companies," said American Chemistry Council Vice President of Federal Affairs Walter Moore. But, for Lois Gibbs, founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, reinstating the tax will remedy a Superfund that has languished since its revenue dried up. She said the BP spill is proof that "we need funds to clean up this stuff."...Read More »
The rising popularity of biomass energy projects, that use wood, plants and other organic materials as feedstocks, and now constitute 50 percent of the United States' renewable energy portfolio, is raising concern among environmental groups. Several projects have been delayed owing to community opposition. Critics charge that burning biomass releases more carbon dioxide than is reabsorbed by plants and emits toxic particulates. Industry counters that the process is carbon-neutral because trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and because it uses leftover scraps from agriculture and logging that might otherwise be landfilled. A Massachusetts scientific review of biomass energy production concluded that the process would likely be worse for the climate than existing coal plants over the next several decades. Plants only producing electricity should not be eligible for renewable subsidies, said Ian Bowles, the secretary of Massachusetts' Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs...Read More »
Waste Pro USA (Longwood, FL) said it has completed two acquisitions, Southern Waste Disposal of Meridian, MS and Wyatt & Bowman Waste Container of Asheville, NC. Southern Waste comes with two C&D landfills and customers in eight counties in Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama. Wyatt & Bowman serves a variety of commercial customers throughout the Asheville, NC area and comes with compactors, containers and vehicles that will support further expansion surrounding Waste Pro's existing Ashville facility. In January, Waste Pro bought Delta Sanitation in Gautier MS, its largest acquisition to date. Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed...Read More »
Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. (New York, NY) said it signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) under which Laidlaw will deliver to PSNH the output and renewable energy credits from its proposed wood-fired biomass power plant in Berlin, NH. The 70 MW facility will use wood-chip byproducts generated by New England forestry and land management activities as fuel. PSNH estimates that, with the addition of the energy generated by the Berlin plant, it will have the highest percentage of renewable energy in its electricity mix of any utility in New England, with about 26% of its electricity deliveries to customers coming from renewable sources. The state of New Hampshire has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 25% by the year 2025...Read More »
Covanta Holding Corp. (Fairfield, NJ), parent of Covanta Energy, declared a special cash dividend of $1.50 that will be paid on July 20 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on July 12. The total cost is expected to be $230 million. The waste-to-energy company also said it will buy back up to $150 million shares of stock. "Returning capital to shareholders now, while simultaneously pursuing our promising pipeline of energy-from-waste development opportunities, reflects the strength of our balance sheet and the predictability of our business," CEO Anthony Orlando said. Despite the last two disappointing quarters, owing to lower volumes and higher expenses, the company affirmed its positive guidance for the year...Read More »
enXco (Paris, France) announced its acquisition of Beacon Landfill Gas Holdings LLC, owner of two high Btu landfill gas projects, operating in Western Pennsylvania at the Republic Services' Imperial and Veolia Environmental's Greentree landfills. The two projects collectively produce enough gas to generate 50 MW of equivalent electricity (up to 65 MW in the long run with increased gas production). Tristan Grimbert, President and CEO of enXco, said, "The acquisition of facilities that process landfill gas that can be consumed in generating plants complements enXco's mission to grow a portfolio of renewable generating assets for EDF Energies Nouvelles in North America. Beacon principals Ralph Daley and James Schretter will lead the newly formed enXco LFG Holdings subsidiary...Read More »
Waste-to-biofuels company Enerkem Inc. (Montreal, QC) said it received $1.8 million in funding from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) for a pilot project in Edmonton, Alberta. The tests will be conducted at the Advanced Energy Research Facility there. The pilot plant is a joint effort between the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions and Enerkem. Enerkem, which has also received an investment from Waste Management, has a proprietary thermo-chemical technology that converts residual materials, such as non-recyclable municipal solid waste, into clean transportation fuels, advanced chemicals, and electricity...Read More »
Canadian investment firm Clairvest Group Inc. (Toronto, ON) reported fourth quarter earnings that were down from last year. Net income for the fourth quarter was C$1.9 million or C$0.11 per share, compared to C$3.8 million or C$0.23 per share for the year-ago quarter. The company has made some plays in the waste management sector. In March of this year, Clairvest Group and its equity partners made a US$35.3 million investment in Hudson Valley Waste Holding Inc., a regional solid-waste company doing business in the northeastern US. This follows its very successful investment in 2006 of US$15.7 million for a 36% share of Winters Brothers, a Long-Island, NY waste management firm which it later sold to IESI, now IESI-BFC, Ltd., for US$51.7 Million in September 2007...Read More »
Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) said it will report second quarter earnings before the opening of the market on Thursday, July 29. The company will host a conference call later that morning at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) to discuss its results...Read More »